These cookies have been in my "to bake" list for so long that I almost can't believe I've finally made them. Months ago, at the start of the summer, I made a tart for my cousin's birthday using dulce de leche which is an Argentinean version of caramel. I prepared my own dulce de leche using sweetened condensed milk and after discovering how easy it was, I decided to look up more recipes that involved the delicious caramel spread. When I typed "dulce de leche" into the search box on my favorite website tastespotting.com, there were close to fifty different recipes for Alfajores, a classic Argentinean tea time cookie. I scrolled through many different variations before I finally picked one to make. Yet somehow, the cookies ended up on the back burner and I kind of forgot about them; not intentionally of course but they kept getting pushed back in favor of other recipes.
Fast forward to this weekend, four months later, and I finally baked the Alfajores. Since my cousin is no longer living in Vancouver, I try to make caramel-focused desserts for his visits because I know how much he loves caramel. Once again, I made my own dulce de leche a day in advance and planned to bake the cookies the next evening. Little did I know that my baking pans would be thwarted by the weather; as I was mixing the cookie dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer the power suddenly shut off. We had been having crazy winds all day and the weather had gotten the best of us. It came back on within a minute and I continued making the dough, but then as I finished it shut off again. Seeing as how my oven is electric I had no hopes for baking the cookies that night.
Instead of baking, I spent the evening playing board games with my brother by candlelight. Unfortunately, he beat me in each game we played (I still haven't figured out how that happened) but we had a great time together. Eventually the power came back on, though way too late for me to bake, so I made the cookies the next morning. The dulce de leche was extremely rich so I decided to make the cookies quite small, about 2" in diameter. They tasted lovely both as a little sandwich and with the two halves eaten separately. All in all, these cookies were a long time in the making but definitely worth it in the end.
Alfajores Cookies with Dulce de Leche
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (4 tbsp) butter, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 egg yolks
- Pour out the sweetened condensed milk into a shallow pie plate (I used a glass pyrex). Stir in a few flecks of sea salt and cover with aluminum foil.
- Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.
- Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 1/2-2 hours, adding more water into the roasting pan if necessary as it evaporates.
- Once the dulce de leche has turned a golden brown, caramelized color remove from the oven and whisk until smooth. Pour into a sealable container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Sift the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
- Cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until incorporated.
- On low speed, slowly beat in the dry ingredients and mix until a crumbly dough comes together. If the dough is already crumbly but not sticking together, add a tablespoon of water, but don't overmix the dough.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thickness. Cut out round cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don't worry about spacing the cookies too much as they do not spread.
- Depending on the size of the cookies, bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. They should be white, not brown, when removed from the oven. My cookies were 2" and baked exactly 10 minutes.
- Place on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, spread the dulce de leche on the flat side of one cookie and sandwich with another. Dust with some powdered sugar over top.